Surprise! If You Like Radio, You Like Radio

Exposing the weak assumptions of exclusivity — paying for a subscription service does not mean eschewing other alternatives: Digital Subscribers Like Free Radio, Too

The data suggest that, generally speaking, fans of digital radio are seeking to supplement, not replace, traditional radio. “Heavy users of digital media don’t think, ‘If I’m doing this more, I’m doing the other thing less,’ ” said Bill Rose, an executive with Arbitron.

The Evolution of the Concert & Reunions

Not Reunions, Reinventions Back and Better. Really.

Unless you are a lawyer or a promoter for one of these bands, all you have is your ears. Despite all the bien-pensant hand-wringing about how reunions smell fishy, a band is a band. It is not more powerful than the sound it generates on a certain stage at a certain hour, its grooves and tones and tension and release. It is made of musicians who are considered young for a while, and then become older. They play in a club, then maybe a stadium, and then maybe a club again. They have money disputes, or they don’t want to look at one another for a while, and they stop. Then the market changes in their favor, and they play again.

[…] If you had working knowledge of the Pixies’ and Stooges’ albums, you may have been stunned by how sophisticated live sound has become since those bands disappeared the first time, and how they have adapted the advances to their own needs. And what about the best of those who never formally went away — a band like Slayer, a performer like Prince? They carry so much maturity after more than 20 years that even if they don’t retain perpetual youth, they have something that might be more important: complete control over their own sound.

[…] There are clear reasons for this trend. We’re seeing the winnowing of the live-music era in America, as well as the end of belief in the album. Any crisis of belief leads to sanctification and orthodoxy; people want to see the saints work their magic. Ashley Capps, who helps produce mid-June’s Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn. — which has booked the Police as one of its headliners this year — put it in a slightly simpler way. “When I was growing up, the release of an album was an event,” he said. “We’ve moved away from the notion that the release of a recording is an event. Somebody can release a great album and get fantastic reviews and everybody’s talking about it, but how long does that last? Six weeks? In that sense, live performances are becoming the important event.”

[…] We have to allow for the possibility that Rage Against the Machine — or the Police, or the Jesus and Mary Chain — could be as good as it ever was, if perhaps a little more wizened, a little more skeptical. (It will depend on their practicing of course.) If you’re still looking for something sacred, it probably can’t be found in their values or politics or cult significance. It’s in you: It is your own reaction to how they sound. Nobody can take that away from you.

Call It A Benefit, And Everyone Will Favor It

Google’s data-storing feature fuels privacy fearspdf

Facing worries about its tracking Web surfers’ every move, Google Inc. is now offering a feature to track Web surfers’ every move.

Its free Web History service is strictly voluntary — Google users can sign up to have the Internet giant keep detailed records of every website they visit so they can easily find them again later.

OT: Some Sense At The End of a Long Week

I’m sorry – it’s been a long week and I know I haven’t been posting as I should. But this LATimes op-ed says something important far better than I ever could, and it deserves posting and disseminating: We’re not all victimspdf

FIVE DAYS after the Virginia Tech massacre, the friends and families of the victims are grieving — and despite the relentless glare of the media spotlight, their pain is still private. It belongs to them, not to the rest of us.

But you sure wouldn’t know it from the way we talk about the tragedy.

[…] Count me out. There’s something fraudulent about this eagerness to latch onto the grief of others and embrace the idea that we, too, have been victimized. This trivializes the pain felt by those who have actually lost something and pathologizes normal reactions to tragedy. Empathy is good, but feeling shocked and saddened by the shootings doesn’t make us traumatized or special — these feelings make us normal.

Our self-indulgent conviction that we have all been traumatized also operates, ironically, to shut down empathy for other, less media-genic victims. […]

Our collective insistence that we all share in the Virginia Tech trauma is a form of anti-politics, one that blinds us to the distinctions between different kinds and degrees of suffering.

[…] Lumping together the space shuttle disasters, Columbine and Virginia Tech with terrorism, natural disasters and war dangerously decontextualizes these disparate events.

One Day Blog SilenceSilence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging
The Problems with A Day of Silence on the Blogosphere

The Onion on Chinese Piracy

From the April 18, 2007 Issue (43-16): Fighting Chinese Piracypdf

The United States recently filed several complaints with the World Trade Organization against the Chinese government for its failure to clamp down on media piracy and counterfeiting. Here are some other measures the U.S. has taken to combat the problem:

  • […] Implementing new security algorithm on all CDs and DVDs that slows down hackers for up to three hours

  • […] Tracking all citizens, thereby creating a draconian hellscape to protect Resident Evil: Extinction from profitless consumption

  • Suimg pants off college kids

  • Fighting never-ending, futile court battles rather than adapting to new technological paradigm

An Evolving Approach To Online Privacy

And a demonstration that we can learn! Most teenagers with social network profiles online are taking steps to protect themselves from the most obvious risks – the press release for the report Teens, Privacy & Online Social Networks

A new survey and a series of focus groups conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project examines how teens understand their privacy through several lenses: by looking at the choices that teens make to share or not to share information online, by examining what they share, by probing for the context in which they share it and by asking teens for their own assessment of their vulnerability. For many online teens, particularly those with profiles, privacy and disclosure choices are made as they create and maintain social networking profiles. Of course, material shared in a profile is just one of many places where information is shared online – but it provides a snapshot into the choices that teens make to share in a relatively public and persistent online environment. Further, we went on to examine the interactions teens have with people unknown to them on social networking sites, exploring the nature of new friendships created on the networks, as well as unwelcome, and some times uncomfortable or scary stranger contacts.

O. M. G! — Le Déluge Commence

Inevitable, I suppose, but still very, very, very disappointing. Apparently, we now have MDs on the Supreme Court: Court Backs Ban on Abortion Procedurepdf

The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

I look forward to reading how Kennedy wrote himself out of his earlier position, and the dissents will be quite interesting – 2006 Term OpinionsGonzales v Carhart (pdf)

The NYTimes AP link is a little longer — Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Abortion Procedurepdf

Also Dahlia Lithwick’s Father Knows Best

Later: Cass Sunstein’s Ginsburg’s dissent may yet prevailpdf

Even later: Charles Fried is starting to smell a rat – Supreme Confusion

A Provocative Set of Observations About Modern Media Culture

Toughest question is still unansweredpdf

This is one of those areas where the entertainment and news media inadvertently have contributed to the coarsening of our culture’s sensibilities. You heard that Monday, when the traumatized Virginia Tech students were interviewed and automatically referred to the killer of their teachers and fellows as “the shooter.” This bland, police-report-neutral language is the stuff of tough-guy cop shows and hard-edged news reports and commentators. It is not part of the usual vocabulary of a young man or woman grieving for a dead friend or mentor.

It is — or should be — deeply unsettling that our journalistic technology and entertainment culture have implanted in the minds of so many young Americans a syntax of distance and dehumanization.

[…] One of the things that distinguished reports on the Virginia Tech massacre was the fact that it represented the first such atrocity in which “new media” were coequal participants in the coverage. This is a process that emerged first during the terrorist attacks on the London transit system, in large part because Europe has run ahead of us in the adoption of camera phones and other handheld technologies. In that instance, ordinary people trapped in the carnage, photographed and recorded what was going on around them and then made it available to regular news organizations, particularly satellite television.

The collaboration intensified Monday at Virginia Tech, where media-savvy students used camera phones and Internet technology to “document” their experiences. […]

[…] [N]ew media’s other face — the blogs — clearly displayed their major shortcoming. Their approach to even events like this is almost completely politicized, and facts are subordinate to ideology. Thus, within hours of the shootings, these sites — both left and right — already anticipated and were preoccupied by the possible political fallout of this latest mass murder.

Right-wing and conservative sites immediately began a defensive discussion of the event’s implications for the never-ending debate over gun control and fulminated darkly over the loss of respect for teachers and adults generally, about the malevolent influence of Hollywood and violent video games. By Monday evening, when false reports that the killer was a Chinese immigrant began to circulate, an I-told-you-so denunciation of allegedly lax immigration policies began.

On the left, similar discussions of Virginia’s gun laws, the lapsed assault weapon ban — no such gun was involved — and the pernicious influence of the war in Iraq broke out.

All of it was drearily predictable; none of it was at all helpful.

In case you missed some of the kind of shocking and destructive blog hysteria that is cited above, Tim Grieve gives some examples here without being too egregious himself, except, perhaps, in his choice of titles: Compassionate conservatism and “Heartily ashamed”

There Will Always Be An England

Even with this new-fangled Interweb thingie: Paint Drying? Sorry, Wrong Link. This Is Cheddarvision.

Cheddarvision is only the latest boring Internet Webcam to randomly seize the public’s imagination, here in a country with an apparently unparalleled ability to produce them.

The ur-site was probably the one that showed a coffee pot in a Cambridge University computer lab in 1991. First displayed on the internal network as a way to show lab workers when the coffee was ready so they would not have to make fruitless journeys to the coffee machine, the site went global in 1993. It had more than two million visitors before being switched off in 2001.

Other dull British sites, helpfully compiled by Oliver Burkeman in a recent article (pdf) in The Guardian, include one that shows nothing happening on a side street of Neilston, a suburban village near Glasgow. Another one (now defunct) showed a pile of compost in Sussex.

[…] In fact, a time-release film of the cheese shows the effects of age on its person, as it progresses inexorably from young and smooth to old, veiny and mottled. Seeing the film is a poignant reminder of the ravages of time, similar in effect to watching, say, all the movies of Robert Redford or Nick Nolte in quick chronological succession.

Industry Consolidation and Privacy

Google plan raises privacy issuepdf

Google Inc.’s purchase of DoubleClick Inc. would create the world’s single largest repository of details about people’s behavior online, an unnerving prospect for some privacy experts.

The $3.1-billion acquisition would combine two companies with massive troves of information about most people who use the Internet.

“This is something that is concerning,” said Kurt Opsahl, an attorney with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Google’s associate general counsel, Nicole Wong, said Monday that Google did in fact hope to integrate the two companies’ “non-personally identifiable data,” and that mixing them would be of “great benefit” to both consumers and advertisers.

[…] “Provided consumers don’t feel snooped on, hyper-targeting makes everyone better off,” said Harvard Business School professor John Deighton. “Consumers don’t see irrelevant ads and advertisers spend less to get better results.”

“Provided…,” indeed! How would you know, exactly? The LATimes also has an editorial, but it’s a relatively mixed message: Microsoft the trust-buster?pdf

YOU KNOW THE politics of antitrust enforcement have come full circle when Microsoft and AT&T are weighing in on behalf of the little guy. The two companies, along with media giant Time Warner Inc., are urging federal antitrust officials to scrutinize Google’s pending purchase of the ad agency DoubleClick, arguing that it would diminish competition in online advertising.

[…] The pair argue that a combined Google and DoubleClick would have unsurpassed economies of scale and a vast amount of information about Web users’ behavior — assets that would help Google target ads more precisely, making it more attractive to advertisers and websites alike.

[…] The market for advertising online is still in its infancy. Advertisers continue to experiment with ways to reach Web surfers, and they’re not yet sure how much to spend online instead of on television and other venues. And neither Google, DoubleClick nor anyone else dominate the emerging market for video advertising, which in the broadband era may emerge as the most effective and lucrative sector yet.

Later: EPIC files a complaint before the FTC – local copy (Washington Post article: Privacy Group Objects To DoubleClick Dealpdf). (an earlier one In the Matter of Google Inc. and DoubleClick Inc.local copy)